Nor, he maintained, his time spent in the ECHL playing for the Lions in their inaugural season in Trois-Rivières.
“I’m not really sure what my future’s going to look like,” the 21-year-old centre said following Friday morning’s pre-game skate at Place Bell. “Everyone’s path is different. This is just my road and I’m proud of my story so far. I’m going to keep going with it.”
It has been, in Hillis’ words, a “crazy year” so far — especially since late December, when he was recalled by Montreal as part of the Canadiens’ taxi squad. By the end of that week, Hillis, a third-round (66th overall) draft choice by Montreal in 2018, dressed for his first NHL game, at Florida, and said he didn’t feel out of place.
He didn’t produce a point in the game, but generated two shots over 16 shifts, spending 10:15 on the ice. Perhaps the transition was easier because more of a structured game is played in the NHL? It was, according to Hillis, the most comfortable he has felt this season, leading him to believe there’s reason for optimism.